Bianchi: Upgrades working well in Barcelona

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Marussia driver Jules Bianchi is pleased with the progress that the team has made over the three week break, with the Frenchman keen on re-establishing his dominance over Caterham at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Bianchi has been the stand-out driver at the back of the grid so far this season, but in Bahrain he finished well behind Charles Pic which caused many to question Marussia’s chances for the rest of the year. However, the young Frenchman is pleased with the upgrades that have been brought to Barcelona.

“The car feels quite different to when I last drove here and the improvements we have made are clear to see, which is good,” Bianchi explained in a team statement. “The developments we have brought here seem to be working well so far.”

Like many, Bianchi was unwilling to exaggerate the impact of the upgrades, only implying that there was still room for improvement.

“Extracting the most from the new components will take a little more time but once again we seem to have followed a good path and I hope we can be where we want to be this weekend.”

FP1 saw Bianchi’s teammate, Max Chilton, sit out in order to give reserve driver Rodolfo Gonzalez some track time, and the Venezuelan driver finished in P21 with the slowest official time. Chilton returned for FP2, finishing P21, and Bianchi finished 18th and 20th in the respective sessions, which will give him some encouragement heading into qualifying tomorrow.

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”